Male Virility under the Microscope in Ifeoma Okoye’s Behind the Clouds and Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
Ifeoma Okoye’s Behind the Clouds and Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives have over the years received some critical attention. This paper adds to existing scholarship by exploring how patriarchal construction understands infertility with regard to both men and women in both novels. Premised on machismo, a type of masculinity, the paper aims to investigate if childlessness is solely a woman’s problem as she has been made to believe. Through the delineation of childless marriages in both novels, the paper demonstrates that though the wives feel culpable and suffer physical and emotional distress as a result, it is the husbands that are proven sterile when their so-called virility is brought under the microscope. The paper concludes that infertility is a medical problem and not a woman’s problem as this study has amply dramatised. The paper therefore recommends that husbands and wives should avail themselves of thorough medical examination if confronted with childlessness and that the patriarchal myth that denies the existence of male infertility needs be demystified to forestall unjust social castigation levied on wives as a result of childlessness.
Keywords: Okoye, Shoneyin, virility, machismo, childlessness, microscope